The hormone cortisol, or stress hormone, has an important role in the body. However, if this hormone is excessive, the effect is dangerous.
Unlike the hormones tes**tosterone, estrogen, or insulin, the hormone cortisol may be less common in some people. This hormone is related to the body’s response to stress, so it is also called the stress hormone.
Cortisol Stress Hormone Definition
The hormone cortisol is a hormone associated with the body’s response to stress and produced by the adrenal glands. The hormone cortisol is released by these glands, especially when you are facing stress and is often referred to as an indicator of stress.
The hormone cortisol is needed by the body when facing the mechanism of fight of flight response, when the body faces mental and physical challenges.
In addition to being necessary when dealing with stress, the hormone cortisol actually also plays another role in the body. Some of the functions performed by this hormone are blood sugar control, inflammation regulation, metabolic regulation, and memory control.
Although the hormone cortisol plays an important function in the body, its excessively high levels due to responding to stress can be dangerous for you. Some of the symptoms that appear if cortisol hormone levels are high, namely:
- Weight gain
- Rounded face (moon face)
- Skin thins
- Easy bruising
- Flushed face
- Weakened muscles
- Excessive fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
Cortisol Stress Hormone Function
Cortisol plays a role in controlling metabolism, i.e. all chemical processes that occur in the human body. Therefore, cortisol is a hormone in charge of carrying out the following:
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Fighting inflammation in the body
- Affects memory formation
- Controlling the balance of salt and water in the body
- Adjusting blood pressure to the condition of the body
- Helps fetal development in pregnant women
Cortisol production is controlled by three organs in the body: the hypothalamus in the brain, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. Normally, cortisol does exist in the body with reasonable levels. When cortisol levels in the blood decrease, the three organs will work together to trigger cortisol production.
Other factors such as stress or physical activity also affect the production process of cortisol. When you are stressed or are exercising, the production of the hormone cortisol will increase. This happens so that your body is able to respond or adapt to the trigger factors mentioned above.
For example, when you are exercising, you certainly need a large amount of energy. Well, cortisol must perform its function as a blood sugar regulator so that sugar can be processed into a source of energy. That way, your body is able to adapt to increased energy needs and you can exercise smoothly.
How to control stress hormone cortisol
Under normal conditions, the body can produce cortisol as needed. However, excessively high amounts of cortisol can have a negative effect on health.
Here are the things you can do to lower cortisol levels:
- Learn to manage stress better and try to recognize and control stress triggers to reduce anxiety.
- Eat healthy and nutritious, balanced foods such as dark chocolate, bananas, pears, green or black tea, and yogurt. In addition, pay attention to the amount of sugar intake and drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
- Rest enough every day.
- Relax by doing meditation or simple breathing exercises to help reduce stress.
- Doing hobbies.
- Learn to relax and have fun.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid consumption of caffeine-containing foods and beverages at night that can cause sleeplessness.
- Have a good relationship with friends, spouses, and family
- Having a pet can help lower cortisol levels. Based on a 2019 study in “SAGE Journals”, participants who interacted directly with pets (cats or dogs) had lower cortisol levels compared to those who did not.
- Taking supplements such as fish oil and Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is also beneficial for reducing cortisol levels. However, before taking it should first consult a doctor.